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Judiciary

SC delivers split judgment on Chandrababu Naidus plea

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      16 January, 2024 06:31 PM      0 Comments
SC delivers spilt judgment on Chandrababu Naidus plea

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered a split judgment on a petition by former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, on the applicability of Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act, which mandated prior approval before investigating a public servant.

A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi differed on the issue and ordered posting the matter before the Chief Justice of India for setting up a larger bench.

Justice Bose said Naidu cant be proceeded against for offences under 13(1)(c) and 13(1)(d) and 13(2) under the PC Act as no previous approval of the concerned authority has been obtained.

He, however, declined to quash the remand order, saying lack of approval will not make the remand order non- est. He allowed the authorities to take the prior sanction.

Justice Trivedi said she has a different view. She said the statute cannot be applied retrospectively unless expressly stated and the 2018 amendment was only made effective from the specified date i e, July 26, 2018.

"The object of the act is to combat corruption and the goal of Section 17A is to protect honest public servants from harassment and the object cannot be to give benefit to dishonest public servants and making it retrospectively applicable will frustrate the object of PC ACT. Absence of approval would never be the ground to quash the FIR especially when he (Naidu) is charged under other PC Act offences as well and since it is done during his official capacity it will not come under 17 A and this will lead to curtailing probe at a nascent stage," Justice Trivedi said in her judgement.

The provision cannot be made retrospective or retroactive, she said.

The TDP chief challenged the Andhra Pradesh High Court's order of September 22, 2023 denying him the relief. Naidu had questioned his arrest and lodging of an FIR in connection with Rs 3,300 crore scam in setting up skill development centres.

Niadus petition challenged his arrest on September 8, 2022 in the 2021 FIR lodged by Crime Investigation Department (CID) related to setting up skill development centres across the state.

The High Court had refused to quash the FIR lodged on December 9, 2021 and order of his judicial remand in a case related to setting up skill development centres. Naidu was granted regular bail in November, 2023.



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